DCRP Review: Fuji FinePix 2300
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Monday, July 2, 2001
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 3, 2001

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More and more products are popping up for consumers who just want an easy to use, no-frills digital camera. The Fuji FinePix 2300 is one such camera -- priced at just $279. It replaces the popular FinePix 1300, upping the resolution from 1.3 to 2.1 Megapixels. The FinePix 2300 is a fixed focus, 2.1 Megapixel, digital zoom camera without a lot of bells and whistles. And my guess is that there are many people who are looking for just such a device.

What's in the Box?

The FinePix 2300 has a pretty good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 2.1 Mpixel FinePix 2300 camera
  • 8MB SmartMedia card
  • 4 alkaline AA batteries
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring FinePixViewer, PhotoDeluxe (Windows only), ActiveShare (Windows only), and drivers
  • 78 page manual

There isn't much to comment on here. I wish Fuji included rechargeable batteries instead of alkalines, but I guess they had to keep the cost down. My advice is to pick up one or two sets of NiMH rechargeables and a charger.

There's no lens cap of any kind included, so do take precautions to prevent damage to the lens.

The FinePixViewer software is decent (on the Mac at least) but not wonderful. The PhotoDeluxe software (Windows only, unfortunately) is definitely better for photo editing.

The manual for the FinePix 2300 is good -- as is the case with all of Fuji's cameras.

There are no accessory lenses or filters available for the FinePix 2300.

Look and Feel

The FinePix 2300 is a light, gray plastic camera that is exceptionally easy to hold (with one hand even). While the body is all plastic, it does seem sturdy enough. The dimensions of the FP2300 are 4.3 x 3.0 x 1.5 (W x H x D) and it weighs just 200g (7.1 oz) empty.

Here's a look at the front of the camera. The lens, as I mentioned, is fixed focus, with a focus distance of 5.8mm (equivalent to 36mm).

The FP2300's flash has an effective range of 0.7m - 3.0m.

Here's the back of the camera. The 1.6" LCD is fluid, but harder than most to use outdoors. You can adjust the brightness by holding down the Display button, but it only helps somewhat. The LCD is off by default when the camera is turned on. Nose smudges will only be a problem if you use your left eye with the optical viewfinder.

In the top-left of the photo, you can see the optical viewfinder. There is no diopter correction for those of us with glasses, but the viewfinder was good sized. It shows 80% of the actual image captured by the CCD.

The Display button (above the LCD) turns the LCD on and off. Just above that is the power switch, while to the right you'll find the buttons for controlling the menus.

To the far right is the mode wheel, which has just three choices: play, record, and setup.

Here's the top of the camera, where you can see the shutter release button.

Here's one side of the 2300. At the top, you can see the switch which puts the camera in macro mode. Don't forget to switch it back to normal when you're done taking macro shots, or your photos will all be blurry. I say this because I did this myself.

Just below that, you can see the USB and DC in ports. There is no serial support on this camera, nor is there video out.

And here's the other side of the camera, with the 8MB SmartMedia card shown. The SM slot is one of those "just grab the card" types (meaning not spring-loaded).

Finally, here's the bottom of the camera. There's a battery compartment for those 4 AA batteries, as well as a plastic tripod mount.

Using the Fuji FinePix 2300

Record Mode

The FinePix 2300 takes about 2 seconds to start up before you can take photos. The LCD is off by default. The camera is responsive when taking photos -- since there's no focusing needed, the shutter lag is minimal. The camera's shot-to-shot speed is a bit on the slow side. You'll have to wait 6 seconds before you can take another photo (1600/Fine Quality), or 4 seconds at 1600/Normal quality.

There are quite a few choices in photo resolution and quality on this FinePix camera:

Resolution Quality # photos on 8MB card (included) # photos on 32MB card (for reference)
1600 x 1200 Fine 10 41
Normal 19 79
Basic 39 152
1280 x 960 Fine 12 50
Normal 24 99
640 x 480 Normal 89 330

A digital zoom function is available, but only at the 640 x 480 resolution. At that resolution, you can zoom in at 1.3X or 2.5X. Do note that with digital zoom, the photo quality is dramatically reduced.

The 2300 has both automatic and manual modes. I was kind of puzzled by the fact that some manual-sounding features were only available in auto mode. Here's what's available in each:

Auto mode:

  • Flash (Auto/Redeye Reduction/Fill/Off/Slow Sync)
  • Continuous shooting (2 frames/sec, 640 x 480, no flash, up to 9 shots)
  • Self-timer (10 secs)

Manual Mode:

  • Flash (same as above)
  • Exposure compensation (-0.9EV to +1.5EV)
  • White balance (Auto, sunlight, cloudy, fluorescent [3 choices], incandescent)

It took me a while to get a decent test macro shot with the FinePix 2300, and you can probably tell it's still not perfect. The lighting in my "lab" is bizarre, and it tricks a lot of cameras white balance system. Without manual white balance, there isn't a lot you can do about it, either. If this one looks a bit brown, that's the reason.

Also, I had to get closer than normal due to the nature of this fixed focus camera. The macro range is 3.1 - 5.9 inches.

Unfortunately, I don't have any night test shots to show you, but in the past, these fully automatic cameras haven't fared very well.

Playback Mode

The FinePix 2300's playback mode has nearly every feature you'll need. This includes thumbnail mode, protect mode, DPOF print marking, and zoom & scroll. A few notes on some of these:

Scrolling between photos takes 4-6 seconds, depending on the photo quality. That's slower than average. The FP2300 doesn't show a low res version first, so you'll wait longer to get the high res thumbnail.

Aside from the basic information (time/date, photo number), no extra info on a photo is available such as exposure settings.

The zoom and scroll feature is well done. You use the 4 way switch to move into a photo up to 4X. You can then hit the Display button to scroll around the photo.

Like most cameras (unfortunately), the 1300 only lets you delete one photo at a time, or all of them. I really like cameras (e.g. Nikon's Coolpix line) where you can select the photos you want to delete instead of going one at a time. You can sort of do this on the 1300, by protecting the images you want to keep, and then erasing the other photos.

How Does it Compare?

I must confess that after using so many high end cameras, using the FinePix 2300 is kind of a shock. There are no bells and whistles, gimmicks, or smoke and mirrors on the FP2300. What you will find, is a low-cost camera that takes good pictures. The things I'd like to see (such as an optical zoom and movie mode) would definitely move the price of the camera up another $100 or so, putting it out of reach for first time digicam buyers. But for those new digicam owners, I think the FinePix 2300 will suit them just fine.

What I liked:

  • Good pictures, low price
  • USB support
  • Very easy to use

What I didn't care for:

  • Slow reading/writing files to SmartMedia
  • Digital zoom and continuous shooting only work in 640 x 480
  • No rechargeable batteries included

Here are some other low-cost cameras to consider: Canon PowerShot A20 (more $$, but offers optical zoom), Fuji FinePix 2400 (zoom), Kodak DC3400 and DC3800, Olympus D-510Z (zoom, movie mode), and the Toshiba PDR-M61 (zoom).

As always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out the FinePix 2300 and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

So how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos in our photo gallery!

Want a second opinion?

Check out Steve's Digicams review of the FinePix 2300.

Jeff welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to jakeller@pair.com. Due to my limited resources, please do not ask for personal camera recommendations.
 

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